Is Water the New Oil?

Topics: Water, Scarcity, Water resources Pages: 5 (1653 words) Published: December 12, 2012
Why Water Is Called The New Oil?

Ashley Buckhanon

Bethel University

This paper is about providing safe drinking water to the world’s 6.9 billion and growing population is one of the greatest challenges of the century. Consideration of the global water cycle, however, shows that the available renewable freshwater resources exceed the current human demand by roughly a factor of 10. Scarcity results from the uneven spatial and temporal distribution of water. Over withdrawal of surface water and groundwater has led to depletion of water resources and environmental damage in some regions. Indeed, resource monitoring, development of novel waste – water treatment technologies, and determination of the quantities of water that can be withdrawn without causing adverse effects on environment will be essential for the efficient management of global water resources in the future.

We take water for granted. And why not? We turn a tap and it comes out. But that’s going to have to change. The basic problem is this: the quantity of water in the world is finite, but demand is everywhere on the rise. As oil was in the 20th century – the key resource, a focus of tension, even conflict – so water will be of the 21st, as states, countries, and industries compete over the ever – more – precious resource. So we need to figure it how to use it more sustainably. But that’s not all. IBM’s Water Report illustrates our relationship with water. Water is the lifeblood of this planet. Every time a good is bought or sold there is a virtual exchange of water. Every time we interact with water, we change it, redirect it, or otherwise alter its state. The report highlights that we can’t survive without water. Although water is a renewable resource that can replenish under hydrological cycles, our intervention has interrupted its natural cycle causing its supply to decrease. In the United States fresh water is under threat from new kinds of barely understood pollutants, from pesticides to pharmaceuticals, and from a last – century infrastructure of pipes, dams, levees, and sewage plants that urgently needs upgrading. Water is considered an “access resource”, meaning it’s the resource that underlies all others. So whether you’re building a computer chip, growing crops, or generating power, all of these things require lots of water. But there’s only a finite amount of water, and now resources are butting up against each other. In most places in the world it’s very difficult to get water on a regular basis. Russia is considering becoming the world’s top supplier of fresh water as growing demand turns it into a strategic resource. That is if it can upgrade its own consumption to modern standards. If you pay attention to the perils that future may bring, you should know that the oil will run dry, the sea level will rise and drown coastal regions, and that fresh water will be such a valuable asset that even the oil price will seem low in comparison. By 2030 half of the world’s population will face a fresh water deficit, according to the UN’s World Water Assessment Program forecast. Thirsty nations will take up arms against other nations, people will become ill and die from drinking polluted water, and Ecologies will die out when the rivers feeding them are depleted for the sake of human farms and factories. Global demand for fresh water is growing steadily. Not only is humanity itself becoming more numerous, we also consume more water per day than we...

References: 1. Water and Economic Growth, Edward Barbier (2002)
2. Two proposals for unlimited Fresh Water, M. Nhisson (2008)
3.Clean Water Should Be Recognized as a Human Right, PLoS Medicine (2009)
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